Lets talk about when and where you find elk

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by wpwarren, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. wpwarren

    wpwarren Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2013
    I have done a little searching and not found what I was looking for on here. I have read plenty of books on the subject and spent a lot of time in the woods. I am just looking for personal experiences here. The goal of this thread is to learn more about elk and how to find them.

    First, I grew up hunting whitetail in MI and never have a problem finding deer. For that matter, I also see moose almost every time I am in the woods as well as lots of sheep, mountain goats and even turkey in some areas. I now live near Denver and am specifically looking for information on hunting elk in the high country of Colorado. However, this might be a good place to post information about other areas as well. If you post please name the state you hunt in and maybe what the conditions are like so we can all have a frame of reference for your information.

    I see lots of elk sign (rubs, wallows, droppings, tracks), I also tend to see elk in their summer range. I know some calving areas and have found quite a few bedding sights in black timber type areas, but have yet to see a shootable elk during a hunting season. This year I have a first season either sex rifle tag for an area I know pretty well so my odds are good, but I am still looking for tips. Where should I look? What type of terrain do you have the best luck glassing? Where do you find elk pre-rut, during the rut, and post rut. There is very little chance that the elk will be heading to their wintering grounds during my season, but migration corridor hunting is interesting as well.
     

  2. Engineering101

    Engineering101 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,010
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2013
    I've seen elk herds in the Bridgers in Montana above 7.000 feet in a driving snow storm late in the season. I've seen single big bulls sprinkled around the bottom of canyons and top of ridges in Washington's Blue Mountains. I've had them near run me over in Washington's Clockum area when hunting pressure was high and it seemed there was a hunter behind every tree. I've stalked them when the only hunting pressure was me and had a herd drop off the backside of a mountain while I was still 300 yards away in heavy timber. According to my wife, three 6X6 bull elk were standing in six inches of snow in my front yard during hunting season while I was off chasing them in Eastern Washington. So... elk are where you find them and they are hard to sneak up on during hunting season.

    Having said that, in general, the harder it is to get there, the more likely you will find some. For example, got 321 pounds of meat off a nice 6X6 bull in a hell hole (Devil's Canyon) in the Blue Mountains a few years back. It took four of us 3 days to get the meat and cape/horns (which have since been mounted) up to where the horses could get to it. The other thing I would say is you gotta be out looking when it is getting light and when it is getting dark. Good luck.
     

  3. jammer300

    jammer300 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    102
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2014
    I like to get up high and glass. looking at south facing slopes and old burns seem to be pretty productive for me. the first hour of light and the last hour of light usually see the most elk
     
  4. Elkhunter1983

    Elkhunter1983 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    387
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Not sure what type of country you are hunting, but you will find much more success leaving the bedding areas, dark timber areas for the elk to rest in. The best is to key in on feeding or transition areas. Spend more time stationary glassing and patterning the elk from a distance, this will keep from pushing them into the next county which can happen trying to find them in close quarters. Setting up on a transition area or a feeding area and letting the elk come out to you has worked much better for me.
     
  5. Dosh

    Dosh Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,004
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2013
    WP, +1 on Elkhunter's post. Sit still, glass, pattern, and find the feeding or transition areas. I have hunted the same spot for 13 years (transition area) and once I found it, the spot has been very productive. Good luck
     
  6. Rocking R Ranch

    Rocking R Ranch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    I completely agree with this. Stay out their beds and the dark timber where they feel safe. Hunt them when they are feeding and going to and from their beds. If you bump elk in their beds, there is a good chance you will never see them again. I really like to glass before dark, then go in early and hunt them in the morning where you saw them the evening before.
    Good luck.
     
  7. Red Sparky

    Red Sparky Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    214
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2011
    I live here in NM and have hunted elk in ponderosa pine forest, juniper/ pinion and sagebrush areas. One area the elk would come on top of the mesa close to sunset and feed and rut all night there then head down into the canyons to bed for the day. Another area the elk would drop into the canyon bottoms evening and night and return to the mountain tops and canyons for the day. In the juniper/pinon sagebrush area I usually see them on the edge either going into the trees morning and coming out of them in the evening. Where they bedded was about two miles from where they would come forage for the night.

    What I have learned is if you can find the food source then you can pattern where they are going/coming from. Sit high and glass to find a herd to pattern and then make a plan to intercept them. You do not want to blow them out as they can cover country and in a hurry. One year I had about 6 cows come running past me with their tongues hanging out and a very identifiable bull. I shot him and when we were headed out the forest service road we ran into another hunter who had shot at him, three miles from where I killed him about 30-45 minutes before I shot him.
     
  8. wpwarren

    wpwarren Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2013
    This was kind of what I thought would be the best tactic. The difficult thing about the unit I hunt in is that it is difficult to find glassing areas. I have been looking for good glassing areas all summer and everything I find is over 11,000 feet up. I see some sign up there, but not enough to get me excited. The unit has a bunch of small but open clearings mixed with thick timber. There is a big burn area that shows some promise, but it is closer to the main road than I would prefer. How high is too high to find elk in mid October? Should I glass from above treeline or stay lower?
     
  9. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Not familar with your area but in NWMT, I hunt the high hard stuf or at least still trying. Ive done lot of bow hunting all over state. Early lot of elk are in the north slope shade living,feeding lower or south and back to bed. I find elk also all times of year north slope, probably security. I hunt alot of junk timber and find them, shot several in bed. As season and snow flies I ridge run and glass most south slope opening parky stuff. The areas I run max out at 6-8000. I find elk ton at 4500 and up, some areas I hunt they are in the upper 5-6000 range, varies with local.I also have them go threw my back yard:D
     
  10. Elkhunter1983

    Elkhunter1983 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    387
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Dont be afraid to hunt above timberline. Even if you spot elk lower all you have to do is go down to them. Especially if you can see these meadows below.
     
  11. wpwarren

    wpwarren Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2013
    The lowest point in my hunting unit is probably 7500 feet and it tops out near 13000. I will try to spend a bit more time above treeline this weekend and find more areas that I can see down into the valleys.
     
  12. Elkmen

    Elkmen Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2010
    Higher is better, I have trailed them crossing "saddles" that GPS at 10,000 feet, and it was higher on both sides. Be there in the dark and leave in the dark. Early in the year, lay still and listen, they will talk, bark and bugle clear into November. You have to watch and listen. Successful elk hunters don't sleep, they hike, glass and listen.